Preview. Black and white. Weak comebacks from disobedient new wife who spends money irresponsibly without consulting new husband. John Devlin (John Wayne) arrives in top hat at 1870 mansion. New wife Sandra (Vera Hruba Ralston climbs down from window without luggage but with $20K (and supposedly Gainsborough painting we never see), pursued by papa (signs telegram Marko Poli?), owner of railroad they board.
(Aside: How not to get top acting talent. Shining blonde (wig?) Czech figure skater married already-married head of studio. She claimed different ages. To Hitler's "Would you like to skate for the swastika?", she said she retorted "I'd rather skate on the swastika. Good publicity.)
John aims for California, but Sandy says all the flowers there give hay fever and buys tickets for Dakota. At her father's, she overheard railway plans to extend, buy land in Fargo. John looks forward to quiet and "making love". Colonel Jim Bender and sneaky Collins connive to make Devlins' acquaintance, take same stage and boat, despite help request from big rancher Anson Stowe burned out by raiders framing Indians, then shot dead.
Steamer captain (Walter Brennan) berates bosun Nicodemus "Yassir" "darkie boy" for comic relief. Scenery backdrops of river and buggy looks fake, flat. Sandy unloads John's bullets, so bandits get away with start-up stash just before boat runs aground. Sandy volunteers to tell widow Stowe of her bereavement.
Fargo residents in folk costumes for celebration, meeting Collins again in company of bandits. Bender signs up the wheat-growers to forfeit their land, and puts Collins in as marshal. Devlin pretends to leave town and talks fast to take over the contract, but seeing her father's land buyer Geary come into town secretly, she blurts out the news to Bender. Dance girls in sparkly low cut gowns are the excuse for a song number "Call me". The bar music is the background to action outside.
Old-fashioned punches are fist-to-jaw, with small sound effects even when thrown obviously wide. Hits and and throw-into-wall contrast greatly with martial arts and vigorously physical (Israeli agents' Krav Maga) techniques sifting into modern film fight styles. Self-defence classes should be required for everyone, starting at day-care, through high school; even/ especially seniors need confidence training brings.
Bender has the contract stolen and old man in charge killed. Climax is big blazing bang. Bender shoots Geary, accuses Devlin to attempt lynching, sets fields on fire to get land that spread to settlement. Collins shoots Bender trying to leave with money first, attacks John. Satisfying result on villain, not so much when too-lovely wife says 'sorry honey, sunk (my pun) our travel money into boat, even though railroad coming'.